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Staff take Mandarin lessons at Selfridges

Chinese language training is being given to staff at Selfridges in Manchester to help capitalise on the rising number of Chinese shoppers visiting the store.

The store is working with the Confucius Institute at the University of Manchester to train staff, primarily in the accessories and cosmetics departments, to help familiarise them with Chinese shopping habits and customs.

The training is comprised of two elements, language and culture, according to Katie Popperwell, events and marketing co-ordinator at the Confucius Institute.

“The language training gives staff a grounding in basic language elements, including how to greet customers in Mandarin and ask them if they need help,” she said.

“The cultural element is more about Chinese customs and getting staff to understand the reasons behind Chinese shopper behaviour.”

Selfridges said the aim of the training was to ensure Chinese visitors to the store had the best possible shopping experience.

The Manchester store’s general manager Jane Sharrocks said: “We’ve noticed an increasing number of Chinese visitors to the store – many of whom are students based in and around Manchester.”

Selfridges said it plans to offer the training to more staff in the store and will look to implement similar training at its other stores.

Selfridges is not the first retailer to recognise the growing importance of Chinese spending power to the retail sector. In February, Harrods, where profits recently broke the £1bn barrier due to a rise in international shoppers, said it would start accepting Chinese debit and credit card UnionPay.

In May, bosses at Harvey Nichols and Harrods again called on the UK Government to relax visa restrictions to make it easier for high-spending Chinese shoppers to visit London.

French luxury brand Chanel is also believed to be training some of its staff in basic Chinese language.

According to figures from tax-free shopping firm Global Blue, Chinese visitors to the UK spend 70% of their holiday money on goods to take home, compared with between 25% and 30% for US visitors. Fashion is the category they spend most on.


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